SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Santa Clara baseball split the doubleheader against No. 12 Washington on Saturday at Stephen Schott Stadium. Santa Clara fell 5-2 in game one but responded with a with a 4-3 win in the second game of the day. This is the third straight year that the Broncos have defeated a ranked opponent in the season-opening series.
Game 1: #12 Washington 5, Santa Clara 2
Freshman catcher Jake MacNichols hit a home run on his first-career plate appearance and senior Jacob Steffens pitched seven scoreless innings but the Broncos gave up one run in the eighth and four in the ninth, dropping game one of the series by a score of 5-2 to Washington.
Steffens started the 2017 season on a high note, striking out three of the four batters he faced in the first inning. In the second inning, Steffens' defense had his back with two outstanding plays in the field from freshman center fielder Andre Nnebe and junior second baseman Evan Haberle. Steffens stayed hot and threw seven innings allowing zero runs, striking out seven, walking four and allowing just three hits.
"Jake (Steffens) is an outstanding pitcher, a tough competitor, a team leader and he threw a great ballgame," head coach Dan O'Brien said. "But when you spend time with the human and meet his mom, who is outstanding in every way, you see where it all comes from. Jake and his family deserved a great day today."
Steffens exits for the Broncos having thrown a gem:— Santa Clara Baseball (@SCU_Baseball) February 19, 2017
7 IP, 7 K's, 4 BB and 3 H. He also threw 64% strikes.
SCU 2-0 UW #StampedeTogether
MacNichols' first-career collegiate at-bat and the first hit of the 2017 season for SCU was a home run down the left field line. His dinger in the bottom of the second gave the Broncos a 1-0 lead.
Junior Jake Brodt scored in the bottom of the fourth to give SCU a 2-0 lead. The first baseman walked to get on base and then advanced to second on an error from junior Noah Bremer's failed pickoff attempt. Junior right fielder Grant Meylan single to move Brodt to third and then he scored on a wild pitch.
The Broncos left two runners on in the bottom of the seventh, one of which was in scoring position. In the ensuing inning, freshman Bryson Spagnoulo entered the game for Steffens. He walked the leadoff batter, junior K.J. Brady who advanced to second on a groundout and then to third on a balk. Sophomore Willie MacIver singled to right to bring Brady home and bring the Huskies within one run.
Spagnoulo returned to the mound in the top of the ninth and loaded the bases via a double by senior Josh Cushing, a bunt single from sophomore AJ Graffanino and a walk to Kyle London. Brady then doubled down the right field line to give Washington a 3-2 lead. Junior Joey Morgan then doubled to left to put the Huskies up 5-2.
Game 2: Santa Clara 4, #12 Washington 3
Brodt scored the first run of the game in the bottom of the second to give SCU an early lead. Brodt singled and then advanced to second on a groundout. Cresto then singled to center to drive Brodt in.
Junior Eric Lex battled out of danger in each of the first three innings, stranding four Husky baserunners, two of which were on third base. He was unable to get out of trouble in the fourth inning as he walked senior Jack Meggs who then stole second and was driven home on a two-run home run by freshman Christian Jones.
Lex's night ended after five innings with nine strikeouts, two earned runs allowed, two walks and held the Huskies to 1-9 hitting with runners in scoring position.
The Huskies held a 2-1 lead until the bottom of the fifth when Cresto ripped a triple to deep center field and drove in Meylan from first. Sophomore Austin Reyes then hit a sac fly to center to score Cresto from third to put SCU up 3-2.
Buckley entered the game in the sixth inning and threw 4.0 innings, allowing just three hits and one unearned run while striking out eight batters and walking one. He earned the save in his first collegiate game.
Cresto continued his impressive night at the plate with a solo shot to left center, giving Santa Clara a 4-2 lead in the bottom of the seventh. It was the seventh home run of his career.
"I couldn't be more proud of John (Cresto) and his development as a player and his maturation as a competitor," O'Brien said. "What's most exciting is that there's so much more development and growth potential in him. He's very special in every way."
The Huskies picked up an unearned run on Buckley in the top of the eighth to bring the SCU lead to 4-3. Senior John Naff singled to center to start the inning. Sophomore Willie MacIver singled to second but there was a throwing error that advanced each runner. Cushing then grounded out to third base to drive Naff home.
Up Next: Santa Clara and Washington are set return to Stephen Schott Stadium on Sunday at 3 p.m. PT for game three of the four-game series.
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